We are now into March already, which means a couple of things for us here at BEXSONN. 1. BaselWorld watch fair is upon us and 2. It is the Watches of Knightsbridge first London auction of the year. Last week we spent some time over at 64 Knightsbridge to get hands-on with some of the timepieces in the upcoming March auction on the 19th. As per usual we decided to pick out some of our highlighted lots and share our thoughts on them.
LONGINES/WITTNAUER CHRONOGRAPH REF. 7004A
Lot 95: We’ve never really highlighted a Wittnauer before but this particular timepiece is definitely worth mentioning. Wittnauer as a brand are very well-respected among enthusiasts alike and can boast of rich history and achievements in their time. Purchased by Longines in the 1950s, the Longines-Wittnauer names graced many fine timepieces. This 1960s ref. 7004A makes use of the Landeron 248, which was only used in the earlier models from 1969 – 70. But this Landeron calibre 248 made use of an unusual feature, where the top pusher only activates the chronograph function, with the lower pusher both stopping and resetting the chronograph. This Longines-Wittnauer chronograph ref. 7004A features a black dial with luminous markers and a lollipop chronograph seconds hand. It features just two subsidiary dials, recording continuous seconds and accumulated minutes, with a tachy-o-meter outer scale. The case measures a reasonable 40mm, features a red rotating decimal bezel and comes on a leather strap. This is up for auction at an estimated £1,200 – £1,500, which I think would be a steal at this price. More info.
HEUER AUTAVIA DATO REF. 7863C
Lot 102: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, that there is no doubt that right now vintage Heuers are hot and are receiving a lot of attention, and as a by-product of that they’ve also seen quite a hike in their value. The Autavia is such a downright cool chronograph to begin with and while there are a few configurations of the compressor model in the way of dial layouts and to an extreme point the mythical albino dials, one that is seldom seen is the two sub dial dato variation. While unusual on the compressor case Autavia’s, add a little more character and day-to-day usability. This 3rd execution dial Autavia features a black dial with two white subsidiary dials, displaying continuous seconds, accumulated chronograph minutes and of course the date aperture at 6 o’clock. The 40mm case features a tachy scale bezel and houses the manual-wound Valjoux calibre 7734. This is up for auction at an estimated £3,500 – £4,000, which is in-keeping with today’s market prices but will most likely sell for a bit more. More info.
LEMANIA SWEDISH MILITARY MONO-PUSHER CHRONOGRAPH
Lot 157: I don’t usually highlight these Swedish Military Lemania chronographs but this one has the most beautiful chocolate dial I’ve seen in a long time. These asymmetrical case Lemania Military mono-pusher chronographs have a rather interesting feature. This variant of Lemania chronograph makes use of the 2225 calibre movement and when the pusher is pressed the crown pops out which at the time enabled the troops to synchronise watches, or in other terms a hacking-seconds hand. This function was actually used to identify whether the timepiece was a Military issued one. All variations of these Lemania Military watches used water-resistant cases, which were popular and became vogue in the 1950’s. You’ll notice on the dial Tg 195, this marking translates to “Giving time” (in Swedish Tid Givare). This Lemania Swedish Military mono-pusher chronograph is up for auction at an estimated £2,000 – £2,500. More info.
OMEGA SPEEDMASTER REF. CK2998-2
Lot 183: We’ve highlighted CK2998’s before and spoke about just how cool they are. Last year Christies had a special sale of Speedmasters, where they highlighted many rare lots. In my opinion, CK2998’s are just as rare as Rolex Daytona’s from the same decade, in fact I’d said they’re actually rarer. The CK2998 is one of my favourites from the pre-moon era of Speedmaster’s and is in fact the first Speedmaster to be worn in space by Walter “Wally” Schirra during the Mercury program’s sigma 7 mission. This rare Speedmaster CK2998-2 is the 2nd variant of this reference. It sports a wonderfully discoloured chocolate dial with luminous markers, three subsidiary dials, recording hours, minutes and continuous seconds. As the 2nd variant, it features steel Alpha minute and hour hands and white spear sub dial hands and the all-important lollipop chronograph seconds hand that is unfortunately missing its tritium. Inside is the revered calibre 321 movement. The 40mm case is fitted with a black Tachymetre bezel that appears to be period correct. It is up for auction at an estimated price of £15,000 – £25,000, which highlights how the market value has changed in just under a year. More info.
ROLEX DAYTONA REF. 6263
Lot 256: The Speedmaster is about as iconic as they come but it is probably only out shone by the Rolex Daytona. The Dayton was introduced, like the Speedmaster, as a motorsport racing wristwatch. This is probably one of the truest forms of a Daytona and the fact it is a Big Red makes it one of the most sought after vintage timepiece of the Rolex Cosmographs. It is water-resistant to Rolex standards but it is also manually wound making it inherently more accurate. I must admit, once you’ve seen one of these in the metal you’ll notice how much more modest and detailed the 6263 is over today’s current Daytona. It’s just a simple, no fuss, no bling sports chronograph; not too dissimilar from the Speedmaster highlighted above. This Rolex Oyster Cosmograph Daytona has the same case diameter of 37mm as its predecessor (6239) however, it is fitted with screw down chronograph pushers and the movement is also based on the reliable Valjoux 72, the Rolex 727. It’s black Bakelite bezel remains intact and in good condition too and the matte black dial mirrors the condition of the bezel, of course with aged tritium dots which appear in order. This 1982 Rolex Dayton ‘Big Red is up for auction at an estimated price of £25,000 – £30,000. More info.
ROLEX SUBMARINER 6538 ‘BIG CROWN’
Lot 263: Big crown Submariners are some of the most sought after Subs around and while they can still be easily sourced, finding one in an unmolested condition can be hard. This is the reference 6538 Submariner and while many collectors and dealers will boast of having a “James Bond” Submariner, the 6538 ‘Big Crown’ is the only true James Bond Submariner. Being a 6538 the dial features quite a bit of gilt markings and text, such as the wording SUBMARINER, while the depth rating has been printed in silver. The dial on this reference 6538 has a lovely dark chocolate hue, with signs of what is described as a star dust effect. The 38mm case is nice and thick, and while it most likely has been polished in the past it has been done sparingly. The bezel also appears to be original and retains the all-important red triangle, which retains its pearl. This Rolex Submariner ref. 6538 ‘Big Crown’ is up for auction at an estimated price of £30,000 – £50,000. More info.
ROLEX ‘DOUBLE RED’ SEA-DWELLER
Lot 274: The Double Red Sea-Dweller is a peculiar watch. Originally born out of a collaboration with COMEX, a French deep-sea diving company, this model would be known as the ref 1665. Initially, early models were issued to deep sea divers during the 1960s, however in the latter part of the 60s and early 70s these models would be made available to purchase by the general public. The Sea-Dweller ref. 1665 used a thicker case than the Submariner and would also feature a new dial that bore the inscription of SEA-DWELLER, SUBMARINER 2000, clearly indicating the new depth rating. This particular DRSD, features a Mark II dial that has a tendency to discolour, which is caused by oxidation and turn into what is referred to by collectors as a “Tropical Dial” – which is what has happened to this dial. It comes on a period correct Rolex Oyster riveted bracelet, with a case that is in rather good nick. This circa 1967 Rolex Double Red Sea-Dweller reference 1665 is up for auction at an estimated price of £18,000 – £22,000. More info.
ROLEX PRE-EXPLORER REF. 6098
Lot 283: The Rolex Explorer has some very deep history, which I won’t get into but I will say this. In 1953 Sherpa Tenzing wore what we now know today as the Explorer, up mount Everest – at the time it wasn’t called an Explorer nor did it really resemble one either just like this model we’ve highlighted. This 1956 pre-Explorer reference 6098 was the first model to feature the infamous luminous 3-6-9 dial and Mercedes hands but without the Explorer model designation. However, in 1957 Rolex obtained the trademark and started calling this model the Explorer. This pre-Explorer features a beautifully aged dial that of course displays signs of aging. It features gilt font and chapter ring, and has an early automatic “semi-bubble back” movement. The 36mm case appears to be quite honest and of course shows signs of wear but most importantly this pre-Explorer comes complete with original box and papers. Up for auction at an estimated price of £6,000 – £8,000, I think this pre-Explorer ref. 6098 may just go for a little more than the estimate. More info.
TUDOR ‘MONTE CARLO, CHRONOGRAPH REF. 7169/0
Lot 382: Last year we featured an in-depth hands-on look at the Tudor ‘Monte Carlo’ Chronograph right here. It is a much appreciated timepiece amongst Tudor collectors and in general lovers of chronograph wristwatches. It is a humble timepiece that for many years has been in the shadow of the Daytona. However, of late and with the resurgence of Tudor, these pieces have gained much more attention. This particular piece is in great condition but more importantly has a full-set. It comes with the original box and papers, and features one of my favourite bezel variations; the 12-hour graduated bezel, like the ones first seen on the 7033 prototype. This circa 1972 Tudor “Monte Carlo” Chronograph ref. 7169/0 is up for auction at an estimated price of £6,000 – £8,000, which is in all honesty quite respectable. More info.
The Watches of Knightsbridge auction will take place on the 19th March 2016, make sure you visit the official website for this month’s full catalogue.